Northbound Traffic

Traffic has been picking up on state Highway 75 in advance of the Fourth of July. Campgrounds, fishing sites and hiking trails are bustling through the Wood River and Sawtooth valleys.

Statewide cases of COVID-19 cracked 5,000 today following a record-high increase of 283 cases, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The majority of recent cases have been in Ada County, which has reverted back to Stage 3 of reopening.

As a point of reference, Idaho had 3,871 cases just last Friday. Today, it has 5,148. That's about a 33 percent increase in the span of a week.

The South Central Public Health District saw infection rise in Twin Falls, Jerome, Cassia and Minidoka counties today, but Blaine County's numbers held steady at 517 confirmed and 11 probable cases after yesterday's local increase of four.

As infection rates rise in neighboring counties, local officials are considering an ordinance requiring face masks to be worn in public settings. Meanwhile, the Ketchum City Council green lit a controversial construction project on Saddle Road. Here are the top stories from Friday, June 26.

• The Ketchum City Council gave the go-ahead to a $9.3 million fire station construction project, despite what one councilmember described as an “underwhelming” $10,600 traffic analysis completed by LA-based firm AECOM.

Discussions were largely inconclusive over the numerous issues swirling about the new fire station, but the vote went through unanimously. Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw hopes for a groundbreaking in July, wrapping the project in September 2021.

• Blaine County officials are mulling over the possibility of a public facemask requirement. No ordinance has officially come before the county commissioners yet, but discussions are underway, considering the move as neighboring counties see upticks in coronavirus numbers.

“For me, I think there’s more and more scientific evidence that this is a preventive measure we can take,” Commissioner Angenie McCleary said in an interview. “It isn’t costly to wear a mask and it’s a way that, hopefully, we could really improve the health outcomes for our community while keeping the economy going.”

Either way, the commissioners can govern the unincorporated rural county. For the measure to have any real teeth, they'd need buy in from other jurisdictions.

• The Magic Lantern is opening its doors tonight, welcoming cinemagoers back inside for regular showings for the first time since mid-March. Attendance will be limited, masks will be required upon entry, but the projectors will be rolling.

Kicking things off, owner Rick Kessler has decided to show some classic comedies alongside a few new releases. “These are films, each and every one of them, that had audiences laughing hysterically,” Kessler said—and right now, he believes, “People need something to smile about.”

• The Forest Service is continuing work on a Redfish-Stanley public trail, despite alleged harassment of workers. On Saturday, a low-flying helicopter allegedly made several moves against Forest Service employees, with the pilot reportedly flashing obscene gestures and coming dangerously close to workers and equipment.

The trail has been embroiled in court cases involving Boise-based businessman David Boren, whose ranch the trail partly crosses. The helicopter in question apparently belongs Boren’s brother, Michael, according to court records. The Custer County Sheriff has handed the investigation off to the Federal Aviation Administration.

For more top news items, pick up a copy of today's Idaho Mountain Express or visit mtexpress.com at any time.

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